Breath & Shadow

A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature

Summer 2015

Volume 12 Issue 3




By Ruth Z. Deming

No, it's not in the family

no, I'm not overweight

no, I don't drink soda or eat Tastykakes.

It was the lithium that did it

ruined my kidneys

those impeccable filters

that keep our insides clean

Up on the table at Einstein

out like a mummy,

my daughter Sarah's kidney was

funneled into my belly

Urine now, pure as a

Michelob on Tap, but

something unforeseen

happens: my prednisone

and Prograf, transplant meds,

block secretion of insulin.

I am now a person with diabetes

whose drug of choice

is a needle filled with crystal-clear

tear-drops of insulin

the poet cries silently

for herself, drawing blood

seven times a day, injecting in

belly, upper arm, tush and thigh

Mom, a baker all her life, has

found at ninety-two a new recipe

for brownies. "Which do you want?"

she asks, standing over her pan

"A corner one or one from the middle?"

"Both, please," I say from the table.

"And a dollop of whipped cream with


I go into the dining room, where,

unseen and burning with shame

I inject another ten units.

What we don't see is a cup of

granulated sugar circulating in my

blood stream, somersaulting,

catapulting, doing cartwheels of


Off come the toes

then the feet

the eyes grow blind

the mind slows

and everything goes

It's worth it! I shout.

It's worth it, for

mother's new


Ruth Z. Deming has been published in literary journals including Metazen, Mad Swirl, and Eunoia Review. A psychotherapist and mental health advocate, she runs New Directions Support Group for people and families affected by depression and bipolar disorder. She lives in Willow Grove, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia.

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